Roof Garden

Roof garden

A roof garden is a garden on the roof of a building. Besides the decorative benefit, roof plantings may provide food, temperature control, hydrological benefits, architectural enhancement, habitats or corridors for wildlife, recreational opportunities, and in large scale it may even have ecological benefits. The practice of cultivating food on the rooftop of buildings is sometimes referred to as rooftop farming. Rooftop farming is usually done using green roof, hydroponics, aeroponics or air-dynaponics systems or container gardens.


Humans have grown plants atop structures since the ziggurats of ancient Mesopotamia (4th millennium BC–600 BC) had plantings of trees and shrubs on aboveground terraces. An example in Roman times was the Villa of the Mysteries in Pompeii, which had an elevated terrace where plants were grown. A roof garden has also been discovered around an audience hall in Roman-Byzantine Caesarea. The medieval Egyptian city of Fustat had a number of high-rise buildings that Nasir Khusraw in the early 11th century described as rising up to 14 stories, with roof gardens on the top story complete with ox-drawn water wheels for irrigating them.

Environmental impact

Roof gardens are most often found in urban environments. Plants have the ability to reduce the overall heat absorption of the building which then reduces energy consumption. “The primary cause of heat build-up in cities is insolation, the absorption of solar radiation by roads and buildings in the city and the storage of this heat in the building material and its subsequent re-radiation. Plant surfaces however, as a result of transpiration, do not rise more than 4–5 °C (7–9 °F) above the ambient and are sometimes cooler.” This then translates into a cooling of the environment between 3.6–11.3 °C (6.5–20.3 °F), depending on the area on earth (in hotter areas, the environmental temperature will cool more). The study was performed by the University of Cardiff.

A study at the National Research Council of Canada showed the differences between roofs with gardens and roofs without gardens against temperature. The study shows temperature effects on different layers of each roof at different times of the day. Roof gardens are obviously very beneficial in reducing the effects of temperature against roofs without gardens. “If widely adopted, rooftop gardens could reduce the urban heat island, which would decrease smog episodes, problems associated with heat stress and further lower energy consumption.

Aside from rooftop gardens providing resistance to thermal radiation, rooftop gardens are also beneficial in reducing rain run off. A roof garden can delay run off; reduce the rate and volume of run off. “As cities grow, permeable substrates are replaced by impervious structures such as buildings and paved roads. Storm water run-off and combined sewage overflow events are now major problems for many cities in North America. A key solution is to reduce peak flow by delaying (e.g., control flow drain on roofs) or retaining run-off (e.g., rain detention basins). Rooftop gardens can delay peak flow and retain the run-off for later use by the plants.

6 Top Tips: The Right Facade For Your Home

6 Top Tips: The Right Facade For Your Home

Your home’s exterior is the first impression of your home, your lifestyle and well, you! It’s also the one part of a house that’s on show to the rest of the world.

Think of it like a book cover, which we all know we judge the book by! So picking the right face to compliment and highlight your home is a pretty important task.

But don’t worry, here are our top tips so that you can’t go wrong!

1: Always go with your style intuition

This is the first and most important tip we are going to give you!

There is 0 reason you should select a façade that isn’t true to you or your taste – no matter how on-trend it may be. Think of it this way… when you’re pulling into your driveway at the end of every day you want to 100% love the home that you see and that you work for!

So, if a design concept just doesn’t feel right, it’s best to avoid. Go with whatever style you’re naturally drawn to with anything visual; minimal, modern, contemporary, traditional or classic?

2:  Avoid the latest fads

Following the latest and boldest trends can sometimes end up being a move you’ll regret as modern trends can date quicker than you think. And the bolder? Not the better!

This move can cost you in the long run when you decide your home’s facade needs an update sooner than it should. What to avoid include things like patterns, bold colours/colour combos and harsh shapes/angles.

If you’re willing to take the risk try to incorporate the fad into an element easily accessible and relatively affordable to change later on. For example, coloured doors are a great feature and can be easily changed or repainted later.

You’ll also want the style of the home to flow from the interior to the exterior to create consistency.

3: The power of natural materials

Natural materials not only add that extra visual element which brings a facade character and dimension, but it can add a soothing warmth to your home too.

Now, this is not limited to just the home itself! Natural materials such as timber, brick, stone or concrete can create some curb appeal through your landscaping elements too. Think fencing, paths, low landscape walls, you name it!

When choosing which natural materials to use, look at what undertones can be drawn from the materials and colours of your home’s exterior.

4: Pick your colours wisely

When it comes to colours, it is best to use one colour consistent with your home’s interior and then use 3-4 different shades of that one colour to add depth.

If your dream shade for the exterior of your home is too harsh to be an interior colour, consider a half or quarter strength paint.

You should also go with colours that are easy to manage and maintain.

If you are feeling bold and daring, contrast light with dark colours and throw in some textures to make a statement.

5: Highlighting

Just like with makeup (sorry all male readers) you want to highlight the best features of your face; your cheekbones, lips, eyes, whatever it may be. And it’s the same with the face of your home!

Apply your feature colour; the colour with the most contrast, to the part of your home you want to draw the most attention to and position as the focal point.

A common area to highlight is the entry space of your home which creates an inviting feel.

Materials can be another great way to draw attention to a particular feature of your home.

6: Lighting can make a world of different

Do you ever drive past a house at night and think ‘wow!’

It’s most likely because the house was lit up with feature lighting

The effect of a well-lit façade not only makes your home the standout on your street but adds a sense of luxury too.

Try some soft lighting or up and down lighting on feature design elements such as columns or a blade wall. You won’t believe the difference it will make!

Conceptual architecture

Conceptual Architecture

Conceptual architecture is a form of architecture that utilizes conceptualism, characterized by an introduction of ideas or concepts from outside of architecture often as a means of expanding the discipline of architecture. This produces an essentially different kind of building than one produced by the widely held ‘architect as a master-builder’ model, in which craft and construction are the guiding principles. In conceptual architecture, the finished building as product is less important than the ideas guiding them, ideas represented primarily by texts, diagrams, or art installations. Architects that work in this vein are Diller + Scofidio, Bernard Tschumi, Peter Eisenman, and Rem Koolhaas.

Conceptual architecture was examined in the essay “Notes on Conceptual Architecture: Towards a Definition” by Peter Eisenman in 1970, and again by the Harvard Design Magazine in autumn 2003 and winter 2004, by a series of articles under the heading “Architecture as Conceptual Art? Blurring Disciplinary Boundaries”. But the understanding of design as a construction of a concept was understood by many modernist architects as well. To quote Louis Kahn on Frank Lloyd Wright: It doesn’t work, it doesn’t have to work. 

Wright had the shape conceived long before he knew what was going into it. I claim that is where architecture starts, with the concept.

Minimalist Architecture

Minimalist Architecture

Minimalist architecture finds its roots not only in Japanese culture, but also the De Stijl and Bauhaus movements of the 1920s. De Stijl’s use of abstraction and simplicity combined with Bauhaus’ interest in using industrial materials and reducing forms are essential characteristics of Minimalist architecture.

By condensing design to its essential elements and focusing on form, light, space, and materials, Minimalist architecture achieves harmony through simplicity. Japanese architect Tadao Ando is a leading example of a contemporary architect practicing minimalism. Known for his use of smooth concrete, light, and natural elements like water, Ando’s award-winning architecture is stripped bare to allow for greater emotional impact.

Minimalist architects often bring together nature and the interior to achieve a balance between the man-made architecture and the environment. Order and harmony are obtained through the use of geometric forms, bare walls, and simple materials. In this way, “the essence of architecture” shines through in the design.

British architectural designer John Pawson is another practitioner of minimalism and is known for helping spread the aesthetic starting in the 1980s. Pawson spent a portion of his twenties in Tokyo and was greatly influenced by Japanese design. Attention to proportion and volume, a balance between interior and exterior spaces, as well as subtle complexities between form and space are hallmarks of his design. His uncluttered architecture is exemplified by the Calvin Klein boutique on Madison Avenue. Here, his simple spatial arrangements allow for a peaceful, orderly experience that matches Calvin Klein’s fashion concepts.

Minimalist Industrial and Interior Design

Minimalist interior and industrial design pick up the lead from the art and architecture movements. Minimalism doesn’t simply mean white walls. Using clean lines and subtracting clutter, anything of excess is extracted until you have the essence of the product or the interior.

Apple is a great example of a company that has successfully used minimalist design concepts. Their sleek design has become a timeless symbol of the company and is instantly recognizable.

Translated to interior design, minimalism means keeping surfaces free of clutter—making organization a priority. Oftentimes, a neutral base color is used, but things can be mixed up by incorporating different tones and textures to keep things from being too bland.

candinavian design is a minimalist interior design style that has enjoyed global popularity in the 21st century—and we’re not just talking about IKEA. By combining natural finishes like wood and stone, pops of color, geometric shapes, and functional design, it is the newest way to bring a bit of minimalism to your home.

Minimalist Art Movement

Minimalist Art Movement

Minimalism emerged as an important American art movement in 1960s New York. A direct reaction against Abstract Expressionism, Minimalist artists set aside ornate symbolism and focused on materials.

These young artists often worked with industrial materials like concrete and steel, calling attention to their forms and physical properties rather than focusing on emotion. Their sleek, geometric work didn’t rely on elaborate metaphors for interpretation, eschewing traditional fine art values.

Instead, Minimalist artists often forced viewers to contemplate how the physical objects influenced their reactions by reflecting on principles like weight, light, and height. American painter and sculptor Frank Stella, a leading figure in the movement, exemplified Minimalist principles with his Black Paintings. The series, executed between 1958 and 1960, is a set of canvases where black enamel paint has been laid in thin bands separated by raw canvas. The repeated geometric patterns force viewers to appreciate the value of the flat surface rather than view the painting as an illusionistic window into another world.

“All I want anyone to get out of my [works] and all I ever get out of them is the fact that you can see the whole idea without any confusion,” Stella declared in 1964. “What you see is what you see.”

Sol LeWitt, with his attention to geometric forms and towers as expressed in his sculptures and wall drawings, is another leader of the Minimalist movement. Other notable Minimalist artists include Carl Andre, Robert Morris, Dan Flavin, and Donald Judd.

Minimalism was the dominant art movement in the United States by the end of the 1970s. This then led into Post-Minimalism, a reaction against the austerity that includes body art, performance art, and site-specific art. For a good look at Minimalist art, Donald Judd’s Chinati Foundation in Marfa, Texas has an impressive collection.



it’s a word we often hear, but what does it really mean? Depending on your perspective, minimalism can pertain to many different things. For instance, the tiny house trend was partially driven by the idea of simple living. This minimalist lifestyle asks people to reflect on what’s really essential in their lives and reduce the clutter, whether physical or spiritual.

Minimalism is also important to the visual arts and design. While it may seem like a simple principle, achieving excellence in the Minimalist style requires great skill. It asks artists, designers, and architects to break things down into their essential elements, using simple forms to produce harmonious work.

Greatly influenced by Japanese culture and philosophy, Minimalism is a Western art movement that appears after World War II. Since that time, it has remained an enduring aesthetic choice that continues to appear in contemporary art and design.

How Japanese Culture Influences Minimalism

While many cultures practice concepts of aesthetic simplicity, Minimalism draws its greatest influence from Japan. The Zen philosophy, which places value on simplicity as a way to achieve inner freedom, manifests itself in Japanese architecture, which became increasingly influential in Western culture from the 18th century onward.

Japanese aesthetic principles look for the innate beauty in objects, giving value to their natural state. Known as wabi-sabi, finding value in the simple forms of nature is highly influential to the Minimalist movement. Another principle known as ma—emptiness—calls for large open spaces in order to create a spatial emptiness that forces contemplation of essential forms. This concept is key for contemporary Minimalist architecture.

Last, the principle of seijaku—or stillness—translates the state achieved through meditation into design. Here, aesthetics are used to help encourage tranquility, harmony, and balance. It’s easy to see how the clean simplicity of Minimalist design looks to achieve these same goals.

Santiago calatrava

Santiago Calatrava

Santiago Calatrava Valls (born 28 July 1951) is a Spanish architect, structural engineer, sculptor and painter, particularly known for his bridges supported by single leaning pylons, and his railway stations, stadiums, and museums, whose sculptural forms often resemble living organisms.[1] His best-known works include the Olympic Sports Complex of Athens, the Milwaukee Art Museum, the Turning Torso tower in Malmö, Sweden, the World Trade Center Transportation Hub in New York City, the Auditorio de Tenerife in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge in Dallas, Texas, and his largest project, the City of Arts and Sciences and Opera House in his birthplace Valencia. His architectural firm has offices in New York City, Doha, and Zurich.

Santiago Calatrava Biography

Calatrava was born on 28 July 1951, in Benimàmet, an old municipality now part of Valencia, Spain. His Calatrava surname was an old aristocratic one from medieval times, and was once associated with an order of knights in Spain. He had his primary and secondary schooling in Valencia, and, beginning in 1957, studied drawing and painting at the School of Applied Art. In 1964, as the regime of General Francisco Franco relaxed and Spain became more open to the rest of Europe, he went to France as an exchange student. In 1968, after completing secondary school, he went to study at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris, but he arrived in the midst of student uprisings and turmoil in Paris, and returned home. Back in Valencia, discovered a book about the architecture of Le Corbusier, which persuaded him that he could be both an artist and an architect. He enrolled in the Higher School of Architecture at the Polytechnic University of Valencia. He received his diploma as an architect and then did higher studies in urbanism. At the University he completed independent projects with fellow students, publishing two books on the vernacular architecture of Valencia and Ibiza.

In 1975 he enrolled in the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich, Switzerland for a second degree in civil engineering. In 1981 he was awarded a doctorate in the department of architecture, after completing his thesis on “The Pliability of three-dimensional structures.” Speaking of this period, Calatrava told biographer Philip Jodidio:”The desire to start all over at zero was very strong in me. I was determined to put to one side all that I had learned in architecture school, and to learn to draw and think like an engineer. I was fascinated by the concept of gravity and convinced that it was necessary to begin work with simple forms.” Calatrava explained that he was particularly influenced by the work of the early 20th century Swiss engineer Robert Maillart (1872–1940), which taught him that, “with an adequate combination of force and mass, you can create emotion.”

As soon as Calatrava completed his doctorate in 1981, he opened his own office in Zurich. He designed an exposition hall, a factory, a library, and two bridges, but none were built, Finally in 1983, he began to receive commissions for industrial and transportation structures of increasingly greater size; he designed and built the Entrepôt Jakem, a warehouse in Münchwilen, Thurgau, Switzerland, another warehouse in Coesfeld-Lette, Germany, an addition to the main post office in Lucerne, Switzerland; a bus shelter in Saint-Gall, Switzerland (1983–85) the roof of a school in Wohlen, Switzerland (1983–88), and then some major projects; a new hall for the railway station in Lucerne (1983–89) and then an entire train station, the Zürich Stadelhofen railway station in Switzerland (1983–1990). The train station has several of the features that became signatures of his work; straight lines and right angles are rare. The railroad platforms curve, the supporting columns lean, the concrete walls of the modernistic cavern beneath the tracks are everywhere pierced with teardrop shaped skylights, and tilting glass panels provide light and shelter without enclosing the platforms.

In 1984–87, he built his first bridge, the Bac de Roda Bridge in Barcelona, Spain, which for the first time brought him international notice. The bridge, designed for cyclists and pedestrians, connects two parts of the city by crossing a wasteland of railway tracks. It is 128 metres (420 ft) long, with twin arches which lean at an angle of thirty degrees; a feature which quickly became the stylistic signature of Calatrava. The upper portion of the bridge, composed of steel arches and cables, is light and airy, like a network of lace, anchored to the massive concrete supports and granite pillars below.

His next bridge, the Puente del Alamillo (1987–1992), in Seville, Spain, was even more spectacular and cemented his reputation. Built as part of the 1992 Expo 92, it is 200 metres (660 ft) long, crossing the Meandro San Jeronimo River. Its main feature is a single pylon 142 metres (466 ft) high, leaning to 58 degrees, the same angle as the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt in Africa. The weight of the concrete of the pylon is sufficient to hold up the bridge with just thirteen pairs of cables, eliminating the need for any cables behind it.

At the beginning of the 1990s Calatrava built several remarkable railway stations and bridges, but broadened his portfolio by designing a wider range of structures, including a Canadian shopping center, and a new passenger terminal for Bilbao airport. and his first building in the United States, the new structure of the Milwaukee Art Museum. In 1992 he completed one of his most picturesque and sculptural works, the Montjuïc Communications Tower in Barcelona (1989–92), a 136 m (446 ft)-high graceful concrete spire designed for the site of the 1992 Olympics. The concrete pylon leans backwards, and seems to grasp the vertical broadcast antennas. Its form suggests an athlete about to throw a javelin. The circular building at the base of the tower, which contains the broadcast equipment, is clad in white bricks and is equipped with metal resembling an eye which opens and closes. The building has a particularly Catalan touch, borrowed from the park benches of Park Güell of Antonio Gaudi: a decoration of colorful ceramics tiles. The square next to it is laid out like a giant sundial, on which the tower casts its shadow. In 1992 he also finished his first North American project, the Allen Lambert Galleria in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The interior of the shopping mall is covered by a glass roof supported by columns like gigantic trees, a modern version of the Belle Epoque Les Halles market in Paris

Style and influences

Calatrava has never described himself as a follower of any particular school or movement of architecture. Critics have claimed that a number of influences can be seen in his work. In the journal of the American Institute of Architects, Christopher Hawthorne wrote about his design for Florida Polytechnic University, which he called “an example of Calatrava’s architectural approach and creative sensibility distilled, for better and worse, to its essence. There are all the usual influences on view—the Eero Saarinen forms rendered in the Richard Meier, FAIA, palette—and they are remarkably legible and easy to parse here.”Some other critics see his work as a continuation of expressionism. Asked about critics who classified him into different schools, Calatrava responded, “Architectural critics have not yet passed from a state of perplexity about my work.”

Calatrava himself observed that he was particularly influenced by the work of engineers such as the Swiss Robert Maillart (1872–1940), whose work inspired him to seek simple forms which could create an emotional response. Calatrava defined his objective this way in 2016 in a book about his work: “My major interest is the introduction of a new formal vocabulary, composed of forms adapted to our time.”

Calatrava, a sculptor, has also spoken frequently about the connection between sculpture and architecture in his work. “In sculpture, I have often used spheres, cubes and other simple forms often connected with my knowledge of engineering.” He noted that his Turning Torso building had originally been conceived as a work of sculpture, and he praised the liberties taken by Frank Gehry and Frank Stella in creating sculptural art, but he also noted the differences. In 1997 he wrote that “architecture and sculpture are two rivers in which the same water flows. Think of sculpture as a pure plastic art while architecture is a plastic art which is submitted to function, taking into consideration the human scale.” Calatrava also noted the influence of the sculptor Auguste Rodin, citing Rodin’s words in his 1914 book Cathedrals of France: “The sculptor only achieves the greatness of expression in concentrating his attention on harmonic contrasts of light and shadow, exactly as an architect does.”

Movement is also an important element in the architecture of Calatrava. He noted that many 20th century sculptors, such as Alexander Calder, made sculptures that moved. He wrote his own university thesis on “The Flexibility of three-dimensional structures,” and described how objects, by moving, could shift from three dimensions to two and even to one. Moving elements which folded and expanded became an important element of almost all of his projects. “Architecture itself moves”, he told a biographer, “and, with a little chance, becomes a magnificent ruin”.


Calatrava is also a sculptor and painter. Some of his architectural works, most notably the Turning Torso in Malmö, Sweden, were originally works of sculpture.[48] In 2006, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City held a special one-man exhibition of Calatrava’s drawings, sculpture, and architectural models.

In 2012, the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg held an exhibition of his work and this was followed up by an exhibition at the Vatican Museum in Rome. Eight of his sculptures were displayed along Park Avenue in New York City in the spring of 2015, between 52nd and 55th Streets.

Interior design: The 8 most important principles

Interior design: The 8 most important principles


Plan for real life

In the interior design process, “Space planning is first,” says Nesen. According to the American Institute of Architects, space planning includes blocking out interior spatial areas, defining circulation patterns, and developing plans for furniture layout and equipment placement.


Both Nesen and Guggenheim advise that every interior design project begins with an assessment of a room’s functional deficiencies and how the elements can be manipulated to better fit the people who live there. “We try to be really thoughtful about how people use their spaces,” says Guggenheim. She often asks: “What do you need in your space and how do you move through your life everyday?”

The goal of space planning is to create efficiency. For Guggenheim, this means eschewing resale dictums and trends, including unnecessary additions. “We’re finding that most of our clients come to us thinking that they need more space, more storage, more of everything,” she says. “We try to gently guide them toward simpler solutions.”

For instance, she recently had a client approach her with a request for a large addition to their home, but the designer realized that reorganizing the existing footprint and incorporating a smaller addition would deliver what the homeowner needed. “If we’re able to give clients all the function they need without just getting bigger and bigger, I think that’s good for everybody,” she says.

Create a vision

Once the designers have an idea of how the space should function, they mesh those requirements with the client’s desired aesthetic and atmosphere, to create a concept for the space.

“We take a global approach versus just picking a paint color or a sofa,” says Nesen. “It’s really about creating a vision. There’s a timelessness and longevity [to the interior] when you can implement that vision that’s been well thought out.”

For a designer, communicating the concept is akin to storytelling. Says Nesen: “You have to be able to tell a story about how the interior is going to come together with all the different elements and pieces.”

Be thoughtful about materials and construction

“Quality is key,” Nesen says, as materials and construction affect how a person experiences the finished room. Good quality materials have “a sound and a feeling that’s different than poor quality materials,” says Nesen.

Natural materials reign supreme. The designers at Maison often incorporate fabrics like wool, silk, and linen, and favor furniture with solid wood construction and or well-made antiques. Nesen cautions that spending a lot of money on something does not necessarily mean that you’re purchasing a quality piece.

Instead, evaluate whether something is made of an enduring material and built to last. “It’s not that everything has to be expensive,” she says. “There can always be some great finds [at lower price points].”

Juxtapose contrasting elements

When a designer combines different materials, shapes, patterns, and textures, the differences between them can enhance their innate properties. Understanding this can be counterintuitive, says Nesen. “Some clients will say, “I want this fabric, lamp, and chair. But those items will all have the same visual value.”

“Many clients come to us thinking that they need more space, more storage, more of everything. We try to gently guide them toward simpler solutions.”

Juxtaposition is needed so that the eye can appreciate the difference. “For instance, they may all be geometrics because the client is drawn to geometry,” she says. “But you can’t have all squares in your house.” Throwing in a circle makes us appreciate the square so much more and creates a better flow, she says.

Guggenheim offers another example. “If a client loves a particular tile pattern, but it’s a very strong pattern, it’s important to me that the other elements in the room are quieter, in order to make that really important element stronger,” she says. “I want to make sure those things are seen and not muddied by adjacent elements.”

Layer the details deliberately

The sweeping strokes of an interior design concept are nothing without the supporting details. Whether that’s the scale of a lampshade or the stile width on a cabinet door, a good designer must be detail-oriented and will specify all of the particulars in order to best support the overall vision.

“We always check ourselves and make sure were going down the right path to meet that big picture goal,” says Guggenheim. “It’s so easy with so many products on the market to say, ‘I love this, this, and this.’ If you don’t go back and ask, do these meet my goals for the space, they may not be the right choice.”

Be authentic

Every interior design project should be personalized for the user, beyond just catering to their aesthetic taste and preferences. Nesen makes sure to integrate clients’ everyday belongings, as well as heirlooms and antique items.

Sunny Eckerle

“You want some things to have authenticity, originality, and uniqueness,” she says, whether that’s Grandma’s candlesticks or a one-off vintage find. “Even if the goal of a design is simplicity and modernity, we choose to incorporate something a little quirky, which I think makes the room a little more interesting.”

Strike a balance

Guggenheim prefers to evaluate a room’s overall composition for balance rather than deliberately create focal points. Nesen agrees, suggesting that finding a balance starts with the room’s architectural features, like windows and doors, and then adding in pieces until equilibrium is found.

She also likes to read the room and evaluate sightlines from different vantage points. “Spin yourself through the room and think about what you’re looking at from each angle,” she says.


“Hiring an interior designer is like hiring an editor,” says Guggenheim. A designer knows when to add or take away elements to achieve the desired effect. “I might say, there’s too much of this one element or these two elements are weakening each other, so let’s remove one,” she says.

This includes bringing in “breathing room” and incorporating negative space into the overall design, in order to present the strongest composition possible. Don’t be afraid to get rid of things.

Sustainable architecture

Sustainable Architecture

Sustainable architecture is the architecture that seeks to minimize the negative environmental impact of buildings by efficiency and moderation in the use of materials, energy, development space and the ecosystem at large. Sustainable architecture uses a conscious approach to energy and ecological conservation in the design of the built environment.

The idea of sustainability, or ecological design, is to ensure that our use of presently available resources does not end up having detrimental effects to our collective well-being or making it impossible to obtain resources for other applications in the long run.

Energy efficiency over the entire life cycle of a building is the most important goal of sustainable architecture. Architects use many different passive and active techniques to reduce the energy needs of buildings and increase their ability to capture or generate their own energy. To minimize cost and complexity, sustainable architecture prioritizes passive systems to take advantage of building location with incorporated architectural elements, supplementing with renewable energy sources and then fossil fuel resources only as needed. Site analysis can be employed to optimize use of exploit local environmental resources such as daylight and ambient wind for heating and ventilation.

Heating, ventilation and cooling system efficiency

Numerous passive architectural strategies have been developed over time. Examples of such strategies include the arrangement of rooms or the sizing and orientation of windows in a building, and the orientation of facades and streets or the ratio between building heights and street widths for urban planning.

An important and cost-effective element of an efficient heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) system is a well-insulated building. A more efficient building requires less heat generating or dissipating power, but may require more ventilation capacity to expel polluted indoor air.

Significant amounts of energy are flushed out of buildings in the water, air and compost streams. Off the shelf, on-site energy recycling technologies can effectively recapture energy from waste hot water and stale air and transfer that energy into incoming fresh cold water or fresh air. Recapture of energy for uses other than gardening from compost leaving buildings requires centralized anaerobic digesters.

HVAC systems are powered by motors. Copper, versus other metal conductors, helps to improve the electrical energy efficiencies of motors, thereby enhancing the sustainability of electrical building components.

Site and building orientation have some major effects on a building’s HVAC efficiency.

Passive solar building design allows buildings to harness the energy of the sun efficiently without the use of any active solar mechanisms such as photovoltaic cells or solar hot water panels. Typically passive solar building designs incorporate materials with high thermal mass that retain heat effectively and strong insulation that works to prevent heat escape. Low energy designs also requires the use of solar shading, by means of awnings, blinds or shutters, to relieve the solar heat gain in summer and to reduce the need for artificial cooling. In addition, low energy buildings typically have a very low surface area to volume ratio to minimize heat loss. This means that sprawling multi-winged building designs (often thought to look more “organic”) are often avoided in favor of more centralized structures. Traditional cold climate buildings such as American colonial saltbox designs provide a good historical model for centralized heat efficiency in a small-scale building.

Windows are placed to maximize the input of heat-creating light while minimizing the loss of heat through glass, a poor insulator. In the northern hemisphere this usually involves installing a large number of south-facing windows to collect direct sun and severely restricting the number of north-facing windows. Certain window types, such as double or triple glazed insulated windows with gas filled spaces and low emissivity (low-E) coatings, provide much better insulation than single-pane glass windows. Preventing excess solar gain by means of solar shading devices in the summer months is important to reduce cooling needs. Deciduous trees are often planted in front of windows to block excessive sun in summer with their leaves but allow light through in winter when their leaves fall off. Louvers or light shelves are installed to allow the sunlight in during the winter (when the sun is lower in the sky) and keep it out in the summer (when the sun is high in the sky). Coniferous or evergreen plants are often planted to the north of buildings to shield against cold north winds.

In colder climates, heating systems are a primary focus for sustainable architecture because they are typically one of the largest single energy drains in buildings.

In warmer climates where cooling is a primary concern, passive solar designs can also be very effective. Masonry building materials with high thermal mass are very valuable for retaining the cool temperatures of night throughout the day. In addition builders often opt for sprawling single story structures in order to maximize surface area and heat loss.[citation needed] Buildings are often designed to capture and channel existing winds, particularly the especially cool winds coming from nearby bodies of water. Many of these valuable strategies are employed in some way by the traditional architecture of warm regions, such as south-western mission buildings.

In climates with four seasons, an integrated energy system will increase in efficiency: when the building is well insulated, when it is sited to work with the forces of nature, when heat is recaptured (to be used immediately or stored), when the heat plant relying on fossil fuels or electricity is greater than 100% efficient, and when renewable energy is used.

Parametric design

Parametric design

Parametric design is a process based on algorithmic thinking that enables the expression of parameters and rules that, together, define, encode and clarify the relationship between design intent and design response.

Parametric design is a paradigm in design where the relationship between elements is used to manipulate and inform the design of complex geometries and structures.

The term parametric originates from mathematics (parametric equation) and refers to the use of certain parameters or variables that can be edited to manipulate or alter the end result of an equation or system. While today the term is used in reference to computational design systems, there are precedents for these modern systems in the works of architects such as Antoni Gaudi, who used analog models to explore design space.

Parametric modeling systems can be divided into two main types:

  • Propagation-based systems where one computes from known to unknowns with a dataflow model.
  • Constraint systems which solve sets of continuous and discrete constraints.

Form-finding is one of the strategies implemented through propagation-based systems. The idea behind form-finding is to optimize certain design goals against a set of design constraints.

Departure Hall of Shenzhen Bao’an International Airport

Nature has always served as inspiration for architects and designers. Computer technology has given designers and architects the tools to analyse and simulate the complexity observed in nature and apply it to structural building shapes and urban organizational patterns. In the 1980s architects and designers started using computers running software developed for the aerospace and moving picture industries to “animate form“.

One of the first architects and theorists that used computers to generate architecture was Greg Lynn. His blob and fold architecture is some of the early examples of computer generated architecture. Shenzhen Bao’an International Airport’s new Terminal 3, finished in 2013, designed by Italian architect Massimiliano Fuksas, with parametric design support by the engineering firm Knippers Helbig, is an example for the use of parametric design and production technologies in a large scale building.

Urban design

Parametric urbanism is concerned with the study and prediction of settlement patterns. Architect Frei Otto distinguishes occupying and connecting as the two fundamental processes that are involved with all urbanisation. Studies look at producing solutions that reduce overall path length in systems while maintaining low average detour factor or facade differentiation.